Flight 370: One year without a trace

December 7, 2017 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

David McKelvey photo



Zeeshan A. Shah


As the world battles the recent aviation setback deep in the Alps, our thoughts go back to the greatest unsolved aviation mystery of the ill fated Malaysia Airlines flight 370. Questions remain. Have we forgotten it ever happened? Or it is time to rethink what may have happened. Severe aviation disasters have happened in recent years but no other disaster had led to such a mystery that still haunts us.

The mystery thickens around one of the most baffling and shocking unsolved cases in aviation history. As speculation grows that there may have been a slim chance Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 landed somewhere after it suddenly disappeared from radars, with a new theory that the flight could have landed in any or one of the 634 runaway sites within 2,200 nautical miles. There were 26 countries on the search routes yet not one country could identify a solid trace through radar after searching over two million squares miles of one of the deepest and least unexplored ocean regions in the world. Not a single country has verified information on what happened to Boeing 777 Flight MH 370 after over a year to this date.

Boeing 777 remains lost at sea, along with 239 people on board presumed to be somewhere over the deep Indian Ocean. The location of the plane could only be determined in a broad arc from the satellite, which places the jet as far north as Kazakhstan in Central Asia or far into the southern Indian Ocean. The search intensified beyond the Southern tip, beyond Australia towards the world’s end. The southern Indian Ocean is the world’s third-deepest and one of the most remote stretches of water in the world, with little radar coverage. Experts say if the plane crashed there, finding the wreckage could take months or longer, if it is found at all. But it has been much beyond that. Mystery thickens. No clues.

Recent theory and facts investigated confirmed that the plane shifted flight route from its original direction heading towards Beijing, into the opposite direction which takes the plane over the deep ocean bearing sites, across the Andaman Islands into one of the more dangerously deeper waters, as deep as 25,000 meters below the sea. The unprecedented hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet then expanded northwest to Kazakhstan and south into the desolate reaches of the Indian Ocean after Malaysian authorities concluded the plane was deliberately diverted by someone with considerable flying experience, a theory that has not been challenged as much.

The Boeing 777’s Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System, or ACARS, last transmission was at 1:07 a.m. The transponder, which identifies the plane to commercial radar systems, was shut down about 15 minutes later. Theories have been established related to mid-air explosion, submerged, crash landed or hijacked. None of the evidence suggested a single event, although it could have been a combination of various factors, investigators say. The plane at that point would have been near the limit of its on-board fuel supply. Experts claimed that the flight Boeing 777 may have ‘dropped to altitude as low as 5,000ft’. It had flown at 45,000ft, before possibly going down quickly. Other eye witness accounts of villagers in the north-east of Malaysia claim that they saw bright lights over the ocean on a clear night under the sky. Investigators told a Malaysian newspaper that the Boeing 777 had dropped to a lower altitude to avoid ground radar, using the surrounding terrain as a sonar barrier

Confusion remains to this day as to what really happened. No missing debris was found in the South China Sea, an absolute finding in case of the plane-crash over water. Sooner or later, lack of evidence highlights sabotage or hijack for a deeper more ulterior motive behind this bizarre incident. The northern ocean corridor stretches in an arc over south and central Asia, while the other swoops deep towards Australia. The Malaysian government announced that it was deploying its naval and air force assets to the southern corridor, with Australia vowing substantial assistance. Some experts believe the plane most likely flew southwest towards the Indian Ocean, as the northwesterly route would have taken it through numerous national airspaces in an area monitored extensively by satellites.

No new evidence uncovered has been substantiated as the aviation industry today struggles with mounting public concerns over flight safety over deep sea routes. Conspiracy theories have surfaced yet again. Some say that one of the pilots may have planned this under pressure from a third party, much earlier before this incident. Others say pilot error. The black box findings on the recent crash in the Alps indicates that one of the pilots was locked out of the cockpit and the other pilot did not respond. Plus, no distress signal. Tangible clues in this case. Did the Malaysian Airline face the same fate?

Then there is more. Sabotage cannot be ruled out. Anyone who can plan such a stunt also has the capability to create an emergency runway and hide the plane on arrival.

This incident may also be a part of some covert operations, in full knowledge of the agencies from countries surrounding the water front. Facts also show that a deliberate attempt to withhold vital intelligence data (naval aviation data) by certain security agencies may have been a deliberate act, under rating the possibility of the crash but leading to a much stronger possibility of a terrorist act. Who knows? Only time can heal the wounds of the many who remain silent and traumatized as aviation disasters reoccur and make us think.

One year without a trace.





Zeeshan A. Shah

The writer is a Director at CNNA Pakistan – a leading advocacy institute and is an expert on International Relations and Education Policy.

With over 150 publications in major local and global social media & newspapers, he has been instrumental in producing over 5000 radio broadcasts aired globally.

A thought leader, environmental journalist, media broadcaster and a change maker with an acute focus on development affairs & education for Pakistan.

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